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Presentation Details


The Electronic Book in the Developing World

Rob Scovell-Lightfoot.

Greenstone is a suite of software which has the ability to serve digital library collections and build new collections. It provides a minimal-cost way of organizing information and publishing it on the Internet or on CD-ROM. Greenstone is produced by the New Zealand Digital Library Project at the University of Waikato, and distributed in cooperation with UNESCO and the Human Information NGO.

Many document collections are distributed on CD-ROM using the Greenstone software. For example, the "Humanity Development Library" contains 1,230 publications ranging from accounting to water sanitation. It runs on minimal computing facilities such as those typically found in developing countries. The information can be accessed by searching, browsing by subject, browsing by titles, browsing by organisation, browsing a list of how-tos, and by randomly viewing the book covers.

Greenstone runs on Windows and Unix. Greenstone works with associated software that is also freely available: the Apache Webserver and PERL. The user interface uses a Web browser such as Internet Explorer.

Greenstone is specifically designed to be highly extensible and customisable. New document and metadata formats can be accommodated by the use of plugins. The user interface look-and-feel can be altered using macros written in a simple macro language. At a more advanced level, software developers can create new plugins or develop their own custom interfaces to the software.


Rob Scovell-Lightfoot  (New Zealand)
Research Programmer

University of Waikato

  • Digital library
  • Developing country
  • Open source software
  • Low cost

(30 min Conference Paper, English)